To receive a Budget Statement from the Leader of the Council, to consider the following reports of the Section 151 Officer (copies enclosed) and to determine the level of Council Tax.
Members’ attention is drawn to the following Procedure Rules:
· Voting – Procedure Rule 13(5) set outs the requirement for any vote taken at a budget decision meeting (as defined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992) to be recorded in the Minutes.
· Budget Speech – Procedure Rule 1(13)(a) sets out the time limits in relation to the budget speech and (b) details the requirements for making alternative proposal or amendment as part of the Budget and Council Tax setting.
The Council considered the reports of the Section 151 Officer, on the recommendations of the Strategy and Resources Committee at its meeting on 6 January 2022 relating to the revenue budget and the proposed level of Council for 2022 / 23.
The Leader of the Council made a budget speech (attached at APPENDIX 1 to these Minutes), thanking the Director of Resources and his team for their hard work and commended the budget for 2022 / 23 to the Council.
In response to the budget speech, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Mrs J L Stilts, thanked the Leader of the Council and also acknowledged the hard work put into the budget for this and subsequent years in light of the current covid issues.
The Chairman of the Council proposed that the recommendations as set out in reports 9a to 9f be taken en-bloc. This was duly seconded.
The Director of Resources provided a brief summary of the reports highlighting the:
· Member engagement that had taken place;
· Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and forecast budget changes over the next three years;
· financial impact of Covid;
· use of General Funds.
Councillor A S Fluker advised that he wished to make an additional proposal in accordance with Procedure Rule 1(13)(b). He referred to the significant draw down on reserves necessary over the forthcoming year which he felt was unsustainable and highlighted the comments of the Section 151 Officer who cautioned that unless the Council acted sooner its reserves would run out. Councillor Fluker then provided further explanation in respect of this. Referring to the work of the Finance Member Working Group (the Working Group) and given the Council’s fiscal position he felt the membership of the Working Group should be expanded to include Members that did not sit on the Strategy and Resources Committee. Councillor Fluker advised that he had consulted with the Section 151 Officer and proposed that with immediate effect a full budget review be carried out by a cross chamber, cross Committee Working Group and that this Group report back to the Council with its recommendations in the spring. This proposal was duly seconded.
The Leader of the Council reminded Members of the Finance Working Group and suggested like the Planning Policy Working Group that this be opened up to Members from outside of the Working Group membership. She advised that Officers had been requested to ensure that all Members were briefed on such matters, with the next briefing being on commercial projects which she encouraged all Members to attend.
A lengthy discussion ensued during which further comments were made. It was suggested that the Finance Working Group and the Strategy and Resource Committee be asked to consider inviting Members from outside of the Committee. It was noted that the Terms of Reference for this Working Group sat with the Strategy and Resources Committee. Following further debate the Leader confirmed that other Members could be invited to the Finance Working Group to broaden its membership. Councillor Fluker highlighted urgency of the matter and therefore the need to ensure that something was brought back to the Council in the spring. With the Leader citing that other Members could be invited to attend the Finance Working Group he then withdrew his earlier proposal.
The Chairman reminded the Council that a recorded vote was required in respect of the following items:
· 9e - Revised 2021 / 22 and Original 2022 / 23 Budget Estimates and Council Tax 2022 / 23
· 9f – Council Tax 2022 / 23
He referred back to the earlier proposal that they be considered en-bloc and the voting was as follows:
For the recommendation:
Councillors M G Bassenger, Miss A M Beale, B S Beale, R G Boyce, Mrs P A Channer, R P F Dewick, M F L Durham, M R Edwards, Mrs J L Fleming, A S Fluker, M S Heard, M W Helm, B B Heubner, A L Hull, J V Keyes, K M H Lagan, C Mayes, C P Morley, S P Nunn, N G F Shaughnessy, N J Skeens, W Stamp, E L Stephens, Mrs J C Stilts, C Swain, Mrs M E Thompson and Miss S White.
Against the recommendation: